Xi highlights ties with Philippines

By XU WEI (Chinadaily.com.cn) 09:25, July 18, 2023

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, capital of China, July 17, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

He hails Duterte's role in improving bilateral relations

President Xi Jinping reaffirmed on Monday Beijing's commitment to promoting the steady and long-term development of ties with the Philippines, saying that the nation will continue pursuing a neighborhood diplomacy of building friendships and partnerships.

Xi's remarks came as he met with Rodrigo Duterte, former president of the Philippines, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.

The development of China and the Philippines, both developing countries in Asia, is rooted in a friendly neighborhood environment and an Asian family characterized by win-win cooperation, Xi said.

While expressing China's strong emphasis on relations with the Philippines, Xi said Beijing remains committed to amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness as well as good neighborliness in its relations with neighboring countries.

The president lauded Duterte, who served as Philippine president from 2016 to 2022, for making the strategic choice to improve relations with China "with a sense of responsibility to the people and history".

Under Duterte's tenure, China-Philippines relations had returned to the right track and flourished, marking an important contribution to bilateral friendly exchanges, Xi noted.

Duterte expressed his gratitude for China's valuable support to the economic and social development of the Philippines, especially the generous assistance in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developing friendly relations with China is in the interests of both peoples and is also the wish of the majority of the Filipino people, said the former Philippine leader, who added that he is willing to continue playing a role in promoting Philippines-China friendship.

China was the first country Duterte visited outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations when he took office in 2016, in what was widely seen as an icebreaking trip between the two nations, after he chose to foster closer political and economic ties with Beijing than his predecessor.

China is the largest trading partner and the largest source of imports for the Philippines, with bilateral trade reaching $87.72 billion in 2022, according to China's Foreign Ministry.

Zhang Jie, a researcher on the South China Sea and Southeast Asia at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Chinese president has offered a high level of recognition to Duterte for mending ties between Beijing and Manila, which also spoke volumes about the importance that China attaches to this relationship.

"It also signaled China's hope to see that the two sides can ensure the steady and positive growth of ties and the Philippines can continue to adopt a pragmatic China policy, like Duterte did."

She added that a steady relationship between Beijing and Manila is instrumental to peace and stability in the South China Sea and ensuring that China and ASEAN can focus on regional cooperation going forward.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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